- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

FLORIDA

Detective found fatally shot in car

NORTH MIAMI BEACH — A Miami city police officer was found fatally shot in his unmarked patrol car early yesterday, authorities said.

Miami police Detective James Walker, 30, was found in an alley by North Miami Beach officers responding to reports of shots fired about 12:30 a.m., said Miami police spokesman Lt. Bill Schwartz.

It wasn’t known whether Detective Walker returned fire, he said.

Police were searching for a suspect in a white Ford Taurus with bullet holes, but they didn’t release details about the gunman.

GEORGIA

Hiker’s body was decapitated, examiner says

DAWSONVILLE — The hiker whose body was found in the northern Georgia woods days after her disappearance was decapitated after she died of a blow to the head, a medical examiner reported yesterday.

The body of Meredith Emerson, who had been missing since New Year’s Day, was found after a drifter accused of kidnapping her told authorities where to look, officials said.

Gary Michael Hilton, 61, agreed to help investigators in exchange for an agreement that they not seek the death penalty against him, Union County District Attorney Stan Gunter told the Associated Press.

The finding that Miss Emerson suffered a lethal blow to the head was made by Kris Sperry, the state’s chief medical examiner, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead.

Mr. Hilton was charged Saturday with kidnapping with intent of bodily injury. A judge denied his request for bail.

ARKANSAS

Storm kills 1, damages homes

LITTLE ROCK — A suspected tornado damaged homes in central Arkansas yesterday, a day after a freak cluster of January twisters struck the unseasonably warm Midwest and demolished houses, knocked a railroad locomotive off its tracks and briefly shuttered a courthouse.

One person was killed in the Arkansas storm, said Tommy Jackson, a spokesman for the state Department of Emergency Management. Others were injured, said Jim Campbell, assistant director for Pope County 911.

A line of thunderstorms stretched across the region yesterday and a tornado watch remained in effect during the afternoon in parts of central and eastern Arkansas, and western Tennessee, the National Weather Service said.

The tornadoes developed as temperatures rose to record highs across wide areas of the country. Tornadoes were reported or suspected Monday in southwestern Missouri, southeastern Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois and Oklahoma. Two persons were killed in Missouri.

Monday’s storms also poured more than 5 inches of rain on north-central Indiana, causing near-record flooding that threatened a dam on the Tippecanoe River, and one man drowned while attempting to evacuate in Remington after a creek flooded, said Karen Wilson, Jasper County emergency management director.

CONNECTICUT

Errant sprinkler soaks library books

WALLINGFORD — A fire sprinkler that went off for no apparent reason damaged books at the Wallingford Public Library.

About 7,500 books were soaked by water on the main floor in a new wing. It will cost about $60,000 to freeze-dry and restore the books, officials said.

FLORIDA

Sentencing hearing begins for Padilla

MIAMI — A sentencing hearing for convicted terrorism conspirator Jose Padilla and two other men began yesterday with defense attorneys raising more than 90 objections to a report that could determine whether their clients spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Defense attorneys said the report, which supports prosecutors’ requests for life terms, contains inaccuracies and mischaracterizations about evidence introduced during the trial, leading to unduly harsh sentencing recommendations. Prosecutors countered that the objections were an attempt to undermine the jury’s guilty verdicts.

After several hours of argument, court adjourned until today. The hearing, under U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, an appointee of President Bush, could last all week.

Padilla, a 37-year-old U.S. citizen, was convicted of three terrorism-related charges in August after a three-month trial, along with Adham Amin Hassoun, 45, and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 46.

Sentencing guidelines recommend 30 years to life for Padilla and life for Hassoun and Jayyousi because of their leadership roles.

KENTUCKY

Truck driver killed in mine accident

PIKEVILLE — A coal-truck driver was killed yesterday when his truck backed over a dumping point and continued down a slope, authorities said.

Roy D. Sturgill, 29, of Isom, died about 12:45 a.m. after the accident at Blue Ridge surface mine in eastern Kentucky’s Letcher County.

The mine is operated by the Cumberland River Coal Co., a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Arch Coal. Mr. Sturgill was employed by Bates Contracting in Whitesburg.

Arch spokeswoman Kim Link said she had no further details.

“We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Sturgill’s family, friends and co-workers,” Miss Link said.

Kentucky Natural Resources Commissioner Susan Bush said state inspectors last year cited the mine for 24 safety violations and issued 19 orders banning the use of specific pieces of equipment, mainly vehicles.

MISSOURI

Bar crowds face ban on swearing

ST. CHARLES — A St. Louis-area town is considering a bill that would ban swearing in bars, along with table dancing, drinking contests and profane music.

City officials contend the bill is needed to keep rowdy crowds under control because the historical downtown area gets too lively on some nights.

City Councilman Richard Veit said he proposed the bill after complaints about bad bar behavior. He said it would give police some rules to enforce when things get too rowdy.

Some bar owners worry that the bill is too vague and restrictive, and that it might violate their civil rights.

The proposal would ban indecent, profane or obscene language, songs, entertainment and literature at bars.

A meeting to discuss the proposal is set for Monday.

NEVADA

Bush declares flood disaster

RENO — President Bush declared part of northern Nevada a national disaster area yesterday, making federal relief available to hundreds of people whose homes were swamped by a weekend levee rupture.

Mr. Bush signed the declaration as building inspectors went door to door in the town of Fernley to assess millions of dollars in damage from the flood, caused by a break in a century-old irrigation canal early Saturday.

Floodwaters continued to drain in the fast-growing community, 30 miles east of Reno.

Water had collected 8 feet deep in some areas after a large swath of the earthen levee gave way and a 2-foot wave of water swamped the neighborhood. More than a dozen residents were rescued by helicopter from rooftops, while others were taken to safety by boats.

NEW JERSEY

Lawmakers issue slavery apology

TRENTON — New Jersey became the first Northern state to apologize for slavery, as legislators approved a resolution Monday expressing “profound regret” for the state’s role in the practice.

The Assembly and the Senate both voted overwhelmingly to approve the resolution, which expresses the Legislature’s opinion without requiring action by the governor.

“This resolution does nothing more than say New Jersey is sorry about its shameful past,” said Assemblyman William Payne, a Democrat who sponsored the measure.

The resolution offers an apology “for the wrongs inflicted by slavery and its aftereffects in the United States of America.”

Legislators in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia have issued formal apologies for slavery.

According to the resolution, New Jersey had one of the largest slave populations in the northern Colonies and was the last state in the Northeast to formally abolish slavery, not doing so until 1846.

NEW MEXICO

Snowboarders safe after 3 nights lost

SANTA FE — A couple who spent three frigid nights lost near a Santa Fe ski area were rescued yesterday by helicopter after they stomped SOS in the snow.

Adam Putnam, 36, and his fiancee, Rachel Fehl, 30, were treated at St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and released.

“They had no significant injuries other than some cold toes, exhaustion and mild dehydration,” said Arturo Delgado, a hospital spokesman.

Mr. Delgado said the couple told him they slept on pine boughs in snow caves. They had a backpack hydration system that they filled with snow and stuffed into their clothing to melt.

The two got lost Saturday in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains just east of Santa Fe after snowboarding out of bounds at Ski Santa Fe, authorities said.

The couple contacted authorities at least four times yesterday by cell phone, and searchers homed in on their location by tracking their calls, said Peter Olson, state Department of Public Safety spokesman.

NORTH CAROLINA

Marine calls deaths of Afghans needless

CAMP LEJEUNE — A former Marine testified yesterday that he thinks Afghans were killed needlessly by his special operations unit after its convoy was attacked by a car bomb.

“I really felt there were a lot of people who died who didn’t need to,” said Nathaniel Travers, a former intelligence sergeant who left the Marines last year. “They were just driving their cars.”

But Mr. Travers, the first witness called at a rarely used administrative fact-finding proceeding that is investigating the conduct of two officers involved, later acknowledged that he was unhappy in the Marine Corps and didn’t think the United States should be fighting in Afghanistan.

The administrative Court of Inquiry, scheduled to last two weeks, will recommend whether the officers — Maj. Fred C. Galvin, 38, commander of the 120-member special operations company, and Capt. Vincent J. Noble, 29, a platoon leader — should be charged with a crime. That decision will be made by Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland, commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

One Marine was wounded in the March 4 blast; as many as 19 Afghan civilians were killed and 50 wounded by the subsequent gunfire.

PENNSYLVANIA

Driver accused of bomb threat

MERCER — An Ohio man led police on a 20-mile chase in two states and, when officers caught up to him in a cornfield, he claimed to have a bomb strapped to his body, authorities said.

Authorities said they found no explosives on Yousef Abdel Adhami or in his car after Monday’s events.

Mr. Adhami, 38, of Youngstown, was arraigned yesterday on charges of fleeing and eluding police, threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and other crimes.

Police in Hubbard Township, Ohio, began pursuing Mr. Adhami on Monday night. They said radar showed he was driving 69 mph in a 35 mph zone. Pennsylvania State Police said they joined the chase shortly before 11 p.m.

As police were preparing to arrest him, Mr. Adhami claimed to have a bomb on his body that he would detonate, said state police Cpl. Douglas Maxwell. Police took the threat seriously because of the chase and because they felt something rigid beneath Mr. Adhami’s coat, Cpl. Maxwell said.

Mr. Adhami was in the Mercer County Jail yesterday, unable to post $75,000 bail.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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